Officials said the last of 39 miners who were trapped one kilometer underground for nearly three days in eastern Canada surfaced early Wednesday and were welcomed by their families.
Brazilian mining company Vale congratulated rescuers in a statement for “bringing our 39 employees home safe and sound”.
“It was tremendous news coming out of very difficult conditions,” said company chief executive Eduardo Bartolomeo, who met with miners and rescuers in Sudbury, Ontario.
Doug Ford, the head of the Canadian province, also tweeted a sigh of relief that the miners had emerged safely above ground and without any damage.
On his way home after being freed, Kyle Arkind told public broadcaster CBC that he and his fellow miners had “profounded a lot of worry … ‘There’s going to be down there.”
According to a statement from their union, the last of the four miners to surface on Wednesday exited at 4:45 a.m. (0845 GMT) local time. The rescue operation started from Monday night.
It said each miner was medically examined after a long climb to the surface and their health would continue to be monitored in the days to come.
Local union branch boss Marty Warren commented, “Mining is safer than ever before.” “But miners take a lot of risk every time they go underground. We must never forget that.”
Miners were trapped after an accident on Sunday afternoon that damaged their transportation system, closing off access to the main exit.
Vale said a heavy scoop bucket detached from the conveyance system about 650 feet below the surface and collided, rendering it unusable.
Officials described a painstakingly slow process, using ropes and stairs to help the miners – who had minimal food and sleep – climb 3,000 feet to a secondary exit.
During the operation, the rescue team made four rounds per shift up and down to the bottom of the mine, carrying heavy packs of supplies to the miners.
All operations at the Totten mine – which employs 200 people – have been halted since Sunday, and Vale says it will conduct an assessment before resuming production.
Gilpin said the impact on the operation of the mine was “significant”.
The mine closed in 1972, but Vale completed the refit and reopened in 2014. In the first six months of 2021, about 3,600 tonnes of finished nickel was removed from it.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)